Scientifically altered tomato seeds resist drought, salty soil

Scientifically altered tomato seeds resist drought, salty soil

Turkish scientists looking for ways to counter high salt levels in soil that lead to bitter tasting tomatoes and difficult harvests have developed a new type of seed that is more tolerant of challenging soil conditions and drought.

For the project, carried out by the İzmir Institute of Technology with the support of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), scientists analyzed tomatoes with high drought tolerance native to Peru.

After three years of testing, the scientists managed to separate the gene that makes the Peruvian tomatoes more tolerant and added the gene to tomatoes currently grown in Turkey. The results were successful and the new tomato seeds turned out to be 50 percent more productive.

Speaking to an Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent, the head of the scientific team, professor Sami Doğanlar, said: "These new tomatoes release certain chemicals that increase the taste of the product whenever they are exposed to drought and salt. While standard the annual tomato harvest yields approximately 12 tons, these new seeds will increase it to 17 tons annually."

The seeds of this new tomato species are expected to be ready for distribution to Turkish farmers by 2021.

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